YAKIMA — Ellensburg’s pressure was as good as advertised.
Actually, it might have been even better.
Few teams have put the Washougal girls basketball team in uncomfortable positions this season, and certainly none have forced 33 turnovers against the Panthers, or defeated them by more than 20 points.
The Bulldogs (23-0) showed why they earned the Class 2A’s No. 2 seed in Saturday’s regional game, defeating Washougal 56-31 at Davis High School, just a couple miles away from where the state tournament will be held next week.
While Ellensburg moves on to Thursday’s quarterfinal round at the Yakima Valley SunDome, No. 7 Washougal will face No. 10 White River in a loser-out game Wednesday morning.
“We definitely can’t hang our heads. We can’t doubt what we’re doing,” Washougal coach Britney Ervin said. “We have to take it and learn from that pressure. Learn that every team from here on out is going to have great defense. We have to be patient, we have to be smart, we can’t take the bait. Those are good things for us to learn from.”
Ellensburg’s combination of length, speed and physicality inside kept Washougal from establishing a rhythm in the opening quarter while the Bulldogs opened on an 11-0 run.
Even when the Panthers were able to counteract some of those things, the Bulldogs’ pressure dictated where the Panthers went with the ball. On more than several occasions, they took the bait.
“No matter how much we prepared for it, it seemed we still did exactly what they wanted us to do,” Ervin said.
Jaiden Bea led the Panthers (16-5) with 19 points, including a pair of baskets to jumpstart Washougal near the end of the first quarter. Then, Savea Mansfield scored five points from the free-throw line and Bea added a 3-pointer off an assist from Chloe Johnson. The Panthers cut Ellensburg’s lead to 18-12 with under four minutes until halftime.
The Bulldogs responded on a 7-0 run to take a 25-12 lead into the halftime break, then increased the lead to 20 just a couple minutes into the third quarter.
Dylan Phillip finished with 14 points to lead Ellensburg and Katie Blume added 12 points.
The final score for Washougal reflected its most lopsided loss of the season. The only other 20-point loss of the Panthers’ season came against top seed Tumwater.
“We came in prepared, we knew what it was going to be like, but I think actually seeing it (live) is a little bit different,” Ervin said. “It’s good to prepare us for what we have next.”
The Panthers’ path at state became more challenging with Saturday’s loss, but the team has no shortage of big-game experience to fall back on.
Seniors Bea, Mansfield and Samantha Mederos were freshmen on the 2019 squad that captured the 2A state title. Ervin said their leadership will be “pivotal” ahead of next week as they prepare for their final trip to the dome.
“This is a time where, after a loss like that, it’s easy to fall off the wagon, get disengaged, kind of feel disheartened,” Ervin said. “Those girls know that state is upon us, they know that there’s a lot of basketball left and I think they’re going to lead the rest of the team as far as they want us to go.”
ELLENSBURG 56, WASHOUGAL 31
WASHOUGAL — Chloe Johnson 0, Savea Mansfield 5, Bella Albaugh 0, Samantha Mederos 3, Jaiden Bea 19, Carissa De La Rocha 4. Totals 8 (3) 12-16 31.
ELLENSBURG — Kavara Jones 2, Dylan Phillip 14, Rylee Leishman 6, Jamison Phillip 7, Layne Rogel 2, Quinn Rogel 4, Olivia Anderson 9, Maddie Kennedy-Colson 0, Rebecca Johnson 0, Katie Blume 12, Brooke Ravet 0, Alana Marrs 0. Totals 23 (3) 7-10 56.
Washougal 4 8 8 11—31
Ellensburg 15 12 16 15—56